About the artist

A photo of cinematic artist, Matt Seff Barnes

In this week’s artist interview, we meet London-based cinematic illustrator, Matt Seff Barnes. Matt finds his inspiration in many things but especially from films, which he believes comes out in his work when creating book covers and posters. Matt plays with a lot with tones in his images and will happily contrast muted shades with splashes of sharp colour to accent the piece and to draw attention to areas of the scene. As well as working on his art, he is also the founder of ‘Dark Realm Collective‘, the online community of surreal and macabre artists.

How did you first get into digital art?

Being a fan of movie posters and book covers and the message they conveyed excited me. I got myself a copy of Adobe Photoshop and put in the hours, trying to recreate what I would see on the walls of the cinema or a shelf in a book store. The rest is history as they say, and it’s the medium I’m working in right now.

Why did you choose digital art as your medium?

I chose digital art primarily because it affords me a massive amount of options and diversity within one place. This choice is not just in general terms of Photoshop’s tools but also the freedom of experimentation it offers with textures and the ability to paint and blend elements of the image seamlessly.

To which artistic styles are you particularly drawn?

Cinematic: I like sharp, clean looking work that’s high on detail and the dynamic use of tones and colour which defines the genre.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by anything in the cinematic style. Often this will be a single shot in a film or TV programme I’m watching; I’ll notice the colours and how shadows are implemented to enhance the scene and transfer that to my work. I will often imagine the scene in a book I’m reading and recreate it, applying the characteristics I’ve picked up on.

What is your artistic motivation?

To do something in your life which you love and be able to do it daily.

Of all your images to date, which is your favourite and why?

There are a few, but I do have a special place for my image entitled ‘Drown‘.

Which three words or phrases would you use to describe your work?

Cinematic, high octane and sharp.

What interesting responses to your artwork have you had?

I have won a few ‘art of the day’ awards on websites here and there. The best, however, has to be when my son saw Drown and tried to recreate it just using paper and pencil; it now hangs on my wall near my computer where I create my art!

Name three artists who inspire you.

Rusalkadesign, aka Ludovic Cordeliers, Dean Samed and 3mmi (Pierre-Alain D.).

How do you think you’ve improved as an artist compared to when you first started?

I have improved in every extent possible: from post-processing to composition in a way that only solid practice and dedication can bring.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started making art?

To work harder still; I have strived to improve my skill set, but even after I have just completed something I’m proud of, the next day I’m like, “Nah – I can do better.”

What devices/equipment do you use to create your art?

I use a high powered PC and an Intuos Pro tablet.

Which apps/programs do you use to create your art and which are your favourites?

I work exclusively with Photoshop.

Do you use images from stock sites as well as your photos and if so, which are your favourites and why?

I mainly use stock sites. The two I use are Adobe Stock, and Neostock; which, for the type of art I create for book covers is second to none.

And finally, do you think that people dismiss digital art as a valid art form?

Yes, but you cannot let that put you off. I hate the term ‘photobashing’: while I understand the reasoning behind the phrase, there is so much more to digital art than people think; creating quality images takes actual skill to master.

Thank you for telling us about your work and sharing you fantastic artwork, Matt!

Where to find Matt’s work online


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